Shows off power, speed in easy season-opening victory
September 5, 2011 4:00 AM
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Silas Redd rushed for 104 yards and scored two touchdowns against Indiana State Saturday in his first career start for the Nittany Lions.
By Ron Musselman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State sophomore tailback Silas Redd had a memorable debut Saturday.
In his first career start he rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries, averaging 8.7 yards, and scored two touchdowns in the Nittany Lions' 41-7 rout of Indiana State at Beaver Stadium.
Redd did most of his damage in the first half, gaining 94 yards on 10 carries while scoring on runs of 9 and 4 yards.
"He played better than I thought he would, to be honest with you," coach Joe Paterno said. "Silas has a lot of ability, but Silas has had a tendency to make some mistakes. He hadn't done a really good job in some blocking assignments, but I thought he played a good, solid football game.
"He made some yardage on his own. He has obviously got ability. Hopefully, he can build on that. If he can build on that, he'll end up being a pretty darn good back."
Redd, who gained 437 yards last year while backing up Evan Royster, the school's all-time leading rusher, said he had a hard time sleeping at the team hotel before the game.
"I was up early [Saturday] morning, around 5 a.m. or something," he said. "I was nervous thinking about the game, thinking about my first start."
Redd's 12 carries were a career high and his two touchdowns equaled his total output from last season.
He did have a 100-yard game a year ago, gaining 131 yards on 11 carries against Northwestern in the game that Paterno earned his 400th career coaching victory.
Redd had five carries for 40 yards on the Lions' opening drive in the first quarter, capped by his 9-yard touchdown run. And he had four carries for 37 yards on the third drive in the second quarter when he scored on a 4-yard run.
"I only had 12 carries, but I know I could be called on for more than 20 some games," he said. "I'm proud of my agility for handling this. Physically, I'm ready for this kind of workload. I'm glad I did well and gained some more confidence. At the same time, I'm not satisfied. I just want to keep aggressive each week as the season goes on.
"I've been working on becoming a more powerful back and not one-dimensional. The hard work paid off."
Redd, 5 feet 10 and 209 pounds, had carries of 12, 16, 17 and 19 yards in the first half. He had just two carries for 8 yards in the third quarter before giving way to backup tailback Brandon Beachum.
"I think Silas is the type of back that will look exciting, whether he's gaining 3 yards, 13 or 23, or more than that," offensive coordinator Galen Hall said. "He's up, he's moving, all of a sudden, he's a darter."
Two of Redd's offensive linemen, right tackle Chima Okoli and left guard Johnnie Troutman, have been impressed with Redd's work ethic and running ability.
"He's a real shifty back," Troutman said. "He's a tough runner. He loves contact."
"He's phenomenal. He's a humble, hard-working kid," Okoli said. "That's what I like about him the most. There's always a smile on his face. It's never a chore to him. He really enjoys playing football."
Penn State, which will entertain Alabama Saturday, finished with 245 yards rushing in its non-conference home opener. It was the Lions' highest total since gaining 260 yards against Northwestern last season.
Beachum, playing for the first time in 22 months after missing last year with an ACL injury, finished with 41 yards on seven carries. No. 3 tailback Curtis Dukes had a career-high 47 yards on six carries.
"We try to set the tone," Redd said. "Penn State's known for their running game. It's 125 years of Penn State football. Why not take it back to what it used to be."
NOTES -- Backup offensive tackle Mike Farrell, a redshirt junior from Shady Side Academy, suffered a sprained right knee Saturday in the third quarter. The injury is not considered serious, but his status for the Alabama game is questionable. ... Oft-injured wide receiver Curtis Drake caught passes during pregame warm-ups Saturday and said he will begin practice today. ... The announced crowd of 96,461 Saturday was the smallest for a Penn State game since Beaver Stadium was expanded in 2001.